Improved Facade

From this editor's viewpoint, a good ranch house renovation is cause for celebration.

Robert Martin
Improved Facade

In my short yet eventful career at Southern Living, I have written several stories on ranch renovations and transformations. Needless to say, some of the feedback concerning those articles has not been exactly favorable. So let me take this opportunity to state that I am not an enemy of the American ranch house.

But when I find an example that successfully updates the style, I feel compelled to laud the accomplishment. Such is the case with this home.

Getting Started
Brian Pope's situation is probably similar to many homeowners. While he enjoyed his Baton Rouge neighborhood and the privacy his property allowed, he was never satisfied with the appearance of his 1970s house. Because a garage dominated the facade, the front door was lost in the shadows. To complete the effect, a skylight situated above the entry created an awkward cutout in the roof. 

Seeking a change, Brian consulted architect Kevin Harris for help. "Following the idea of a formal entrance that both faces the street and serves as a door to an exterior side porch, we extended a shed roof at the garage entrance," Kevin explains. This design element, along with a new street entrance composed of a cedar door flanked by fixed shutters, hides the garage door and establishes the desired porch appearance. Kevin even treated the concrete flooring under this covered space in a texture different from the driveway.

Other features also changed in the makeover. To define the structure, Kevin introduced a brick water table topped with a drip course banding. Fiber-cement siding was installed, which provides a low-maintenance alternative to conventional siding. For the roof, builder Bobby Devillier replaced the rafters over the garage with new members at a steeper, more appealing slope. He also dismantled the unsightly skylight and filled in this area as well. Then the entire roof was covered with new shingles.

Details Make the Difference
The original aluminum windows were another concern. "Because the large panes were out of scale," Kevin states, "we replaced them with wood windows outfitted with true divided lights." New copper canopies supported by heavy wooden brackets also enhance the windows and protect them from the elements.

Both homeowner and architect are satisfied with the results. Kevin concludes, "Brian's enthusiasm helped make this project a pleasure." Ranch house or not, now that's a renovation worth celebrating.

"Improved Facade" is from the November 2002 issue of Southern Living.